I live in the south now but grew up in the fifties in western Texas where I saw little to no racial conflicts. Yesterday, my husband and I had dinner with his sister and her husband. As they frequently do, they reminisced about their early years in northern Alabama. My husband told a story that broke my heart.
As a youth, he worked as a soda jerk at a local drug store. He described how he created delicious malts, milkshakes, and ice cream sundaes. The old fashioned stores usually had the wraparound counters with swivel stools where customers sat. You’ve all seen them in fifties and sixties movies.
He talked about how a black youth sat down at the counter and ordered a milkshake. My husband gladly made it for him and set it in front of the young man. Before the guy had one sip, the owner noticed and ordered him to take his ice cream and eat it outside. What’s worse, he told the man he didn’t service blacks at the counter.
As a teen, I heard about how black people were treated but never witnessed it. It just didn’t happen in my home town of El Paso. But what my husband said next sliced through my heart. He said after that incident, African Americans would come to the store and stand just inside the door as if asking permission to enter and order ice cream.
I’m sure many will say, “Hello, where have you been all these years. Discrimination ended with the Civil Rights Act.” I’m aware of this era of our American history, but my husband’s story made it personal, real.
In John 13:34 Jesus is speaking to his disciples. “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Regretfully, we still see examples of hate and racial divide. How dare any group of people think they are better than another. John 3:16 says God loved the whole world, not just some of us. Because someone doesn’t look like me, does that make him inferior? How dare I think I’m the measure of what others should look like?
I long for the day we truly love other humans because they “look” like their Father and my Father. Because their spirit has been renewed and made whole by the Savior.
My book, “What God Knew,” is a biracial romance with a twist. A man from a wealthy African American family doesn’t like his brother’s love interest because of the color of her skin—she’s white. If you’d like to read it, it is available on Amazon.